A Furious Rally Shortened
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Porto Cervo, Italy
10 September 2016
Our headstay failure and DNF on Thursday moved us from first to third in the regatta standings. We knew before the start on Friday that to win the regatta we needed to win the remaining two races. We also needed to get some help from the other yachts in our class by having them finish between us and Lucky.
Tery, Quinn, Lu, Scotty and assorted others brought the Prospector back from Olbia first thing Friday morning. After a little modification, the spare headstay was installed and we were ready to race again. Hats off to them and a bunch of the crew who helped them with the repair well into Thursday evening. We docked out at 1000, hoping as Paul wrote yesterday, for no more small things.
Thankfully, we got most of what we were hoping for. We got out to the starting area and for the first time this week went through our prestart routine with no drama. What at difference to be able to focus on getting the boat ready to go and set up early for our start without having our heads in the boat dealing with some pesky little issue that needed to be sorted before we could start.
The RC called for a coastal race with a drop mark for a two mile windward leg followed by port roundings of the islands of Monaci, and La Madelena, then down Bomb Alley, to a drop mark just south of Porto Cervo and a finish off the entrance to Porto Cervo.
We had a good start and quickly pulled to the front of our fleet. The wind, which had been 12-16 knots at 320 quickly, began to lighten to 6-10 knots and vary between 280 and 320. Sometimes it was better to be left, other times better to be right. Near the mark it become very unstable as the yachts in the fleets that started ahead of us chopped the wind up on their approach. Lucky and Atalanta II, caught the last shift and rounded ahead of us.
That didn’t last. Peter Isler called an amazing next leg, stepping us up to stronger winds on the north side of the next leg and keeping us in phase with the shifts. It is a pretty cool thing to be alongside one of the best in the business when he is doing his thing. By the next mark we had built a sizeable lead which we never relinquished.
We rounded the top of La Madelena and progressed through our sail changes as we went from beat to reach to run. First we put up a genoa staysail under our J1, then our masthead AO with a spinnaker staysail, and finally an A1.5 and ss. The crew work was amazing, all those sails went up and down on time flawlessly. Paul did a great job driving and we were going fast and extending on the boats behind us.
As we began gybing down Bomb Alley we could see the wind getting lighter and shifting in front of us. It looked like the 10-12 kt westerly we were enjoying was going to become a very light northwesterly. Tery heard a garbled announcement from the RC that sounded like our course was being shortened at our next mark.
We put our heads down and did all we could to make the Prospector go as fast as we could. It was our best sailing sequence of the regatta. In preparation for the shift to a light northerly we furled and sank the ss and got a J1 ready, hoisting it half way. When we hit the shift the J1 went up the rest of the way and the A1.5 came down, but was kept in ready position on the deck to redeploy. Next we readied the AO. As we progressed further we went from J1 to AO and then back to A1.5 all in minutes as we neared the finish. Dave Tank, the hardest working man in sailing, lead his bow crew through these changes masterfully. We were now really legging out on the boats behind us.
There was just one minor problem. We couldn’t see the finish boat. We reread the SI’s and the course chart to make sure we hadn’t overlooked something. We hadn’t. We searched Bomb Alley with binoculars but saw nothing. Confused, we decided our best course of action was to record our own time and sail the rest of the course. When we crossed the original finish line we recorded our time again and headed for the dock.
When we docked in Peter and Larry headed to the race office to try to sort things out. As we were walking down the dock a YCCS official approached us and told us that the Principal Race Officer wanted to see us. We now knew for sure something was amiss. When we got to the race office Peter Craig, the PRO confirmed what we had already surmised. The RC had no record of our finish. He asked if we had heard the shorten course announcement. We told him we had, but that it was garbled and we thought the course was being shortened at Kilo. The RC told us that the course had been shortened at Lima the mark BEFORE Kilo and that they were checking the tracker to confirm when we went through that finish line and filing a request for redress on our behalf.
It turned out that we went through the shortened course finish line three minutes BEFORE the finish line was set. We compared our log files with the tracking results with the jury and were granted redress. When the dust settled we finished second, behind Atalanta II and ahead of Lucky.
So we didn’t get a completely drama free day. Though at least this time it had nothing to do with the boat or the crew (Matthew Landry managed to stay aboard the boat). Shortening the course cost us first place because we had continued to gain on both Atalanta II and Lucy after the short course finish. The point we lost, together with the four or five points we lost on Thursday, likely limit us to at best a second place finish in the event. That is a bit of a shame because if we got all those points back we would have a commanding lead in our class.
It is tough to be disappointed though. We sailed very, very well. Particularly when things got light and shifty. As we have written before the sequence of sail changes is easy to write but incredibly difficult to execute. We handled them spectacularly.
So, on to Saturday, the last day of the event. We are raring to go and intend to do the only thing we can to help our standings, win. Everything else will sort itself out.